Ruairi and Ben guide O Raghallaigh’s home
A scrappy second-half goal from Ben Rogan and four points from the boot of Ruairi Moore set O’Raghallaighs on their way to a two-point victory over a wasteful and depleted St Joseph’s in Castlebelligham on Saturday evening.
Slight underdogs going into the game, the Joe’s had the better of the opening thirty minutes and led 8-4.
However, Anthony Keenan’s charges will undoubtedly look back on that opening half with regret having racked up 10 out of their final tally of 14 wides during that spell of dominance.
They won an impressive 22 from 39 first-half kickouts including 10 out of 11 from their own goal keeper Seamus Quigley, who also produced an excellent save to deny Ben Rogan in that first half.
Three of the eight Joe’s scores in that first half came from full forward Conall Smyth who gave O’Raghallaighs defender Tomas Callan a torrid time and the fact that Smyth had to be replaced due to injury with 20 minutes remaining was major blow for the Darver and Dromiskin side and a definite turning point in the match
The Joes made it incredibly difficult for the Drogheda side’s forwards to find any kind of rhythm in the first half.
They employed Alan Lynch as a sweeper, and this coupled with their success on the kick outs, left them in control early on.
But they failed to make that advantage really count on the scoreboard due to some wasteful shooting.
It was 0-3 each after eleven minutes with Eoin Moore scoring superbly to equalise for the O’Raghallaighs who saw and early two-point cushion wiped out by Alan McKenna, Smyth and Jack Mulligan of the Joes.
Moments later, Barry Flanagan put them ahead from play but that would be the final score registered by Mickey Conlon’s side in that half as the Joes took over, scoring four unanswered points. The stand out point came courtesy of Tomas Smyth following some quick thinking by Alan Quigley who picked him out with an incisive cross field pass from a Joes sideline ball.
Conall Smyth (2), Daire Smyth and a free from Quigley gave the Joes a four-point lead to take into the break. If only they had been more economical in front of goal.
The second half was an entirely different story as O’Raghallaighs brought both Ben Rogan and Ruairi Moore into the middle area of the pitch and it bore fruit as the duo scored 1-4 between them to inspire an O’Raghallaighs fight back.
The decisive score arrived 12 minutes from full time. Ruari Moore caught a kickout in the middle of the field before turning to drive at a back-peddling Joe’s defence where he played in Rogan who palmed the ball to the net.
There was a hint of a potential square ball about the goal but it stood and it put the O’Raghallaighs ahead by 1-10 to 0-10.
The goal epitomised the Drogheda side’s growing superiority in that 20-minute period.
They gained the upper hand in midfield winning eight out of the first 12 kick outs contested with Rogan’s goal their reward for that dominance.
Barry Flanagan was another player who came to the fore in that second half which completely swung in the O’Raghallaighs’ favour.
Alan Quigley and Daire Smyth kept the Joes in the game with points but ultimately the O’Raghallaighs held on for victory.
To rub further salt in the Joes’ wounds hard-working midfielder Killian Staunton was dismissed in stoppage time for two yellow cards.
Daire Smyth, St. Joseph’s tackles Dean Byrne, O’Raghallaighs during the SFC Group D tie at The Grove, Castlebellingham. Pictures: Aidan Dullaghan
Ben Rogan nets a vital goal for O’Raghallaighs.